Monday, February 05, 2007

THAT HOODWINKED FEELING

I had a rough week last week. All sorts of sh** was going down on all fronts, and yet I found myself in Los Angeles for two afternoons attending a conference for work mid-week. Normally I’d gather my LA pals and paint the town, maybe do a few hours’ worth of record shopping at Amoeba and then stay up til the witching hour (11pm!!!) drinking in some seedy Hollywood or Fullerton or Eagle Rock dive. But I was wiped. I’d heard about this hotel near the LA airport called the FOUR POINTS SHERATON that had an amazing beer bar, so much so that they even dubbed themselves “the beer hotel”. I certainly liked the sound of that, so I booked myself for an evening, and decided the wildest thing I’d do in LA this time around after work is sit in said bar and try out some new beers. Well, turns out that their bar, “T.J. BREWSTERS” (no, really) is exceptionally low on atmosphere but is long on selection. They had 6 fantastic choices on draft, as well as a large selection of dozens on Belgians, British and American micros in bottle. I was going on about 4 hours’ worth of sleep the night before, and reckoned the best medicine for me was to order up a few and then stare at the hockey highlights on Sports Center for an hour or two while I nursed them.

My fave of the night was getting a nice glass of CHIMAY CINQ CENTS (aka Chimay White) on draft to start the evening. I then moved on to a Port Brewing item I will reveal in a future post, and finished my exploration with the VICTORY BREWING STORM KING STOUT, a beer I’ve heard wonderful things about from East Coast bloggers and the Beer Advocate community. I couldn’t believe it was sitting there in a Southern California bar for my purchase –but there it was. I was jazzed. It felt special, like finding AVERY BREWING’s amazing THE REVEREND in San Diego a couple of months ago. The magic didn’t last long. Once I got a taste of this extremely strong, bitter ale, I was already thinking about all the other things I could have ordered instead. Storm King Stout does not taste like your smooth traditional UK stout, no sir – this one’s pumped up with tons of hops, and carries a deep espresso flavor that might be its only saving grace. Very high alcohol (9.1%), and unlike excellent beers like the aforementioned The Reverend and Port Brewing’s OLD VISCOSITY, it totally shows. I sincerely hope this trend of beer-that-tastes-like-whiskey ends soon; there are obviously ways to make great high-ABV beer that don’t have to taste like rubbing alcohol, but this one’s not one of them. I gave it a 4.5/10, which means I’m certainly not trying it again. Any of my peeps out there have a similar experience?

7 comments:

Ryan said...

Storm King is easily Victory's weakest bottled offering. Hop Devil, Golden Monkey and Prima Pils deliver, as does the V12 if you can find it. That said, I do like Storm King OK and wonder if you didn't happen across an old bottle, which is common with Victory products out here on the west coast.

mumbly said...

I'll second the rec for Victory. One of my favorite breweries from back when I had a few sources shipping it to me from the East Coast until I started finding it locally.

Do give them another chance. You should be able to find Hop Devil and Prima Pils up here in the Bay Area. I've gotten them at Whole Foods in the past, though I can't rightly say where they might be found currently.

--Tim

Kyle said...

Too bad about this one. I love Hop Devil, that's for sure.

steve said...

Were any of those that you mentioned on tap, or just in the bottle?

Jay said...

Steve, only the Victory Storm King was in a bottle. This hotel actually has 6 taps open, and everything on tap is fantastic – I’d say they probably have four dozen different bottled beers as well – again, all for beer snobs, not a Coors Light in sight…..

Seanrude said...

Hop Devil is good. It is my "go to" beer when I can't decide what to get and my wife is getting impatient.

Steve said...

Yeah HopDevil is awesome. I have my first bottle of Storm King sitting around my house ready to be drunk whenever, I hope it turns out to be enjoyable but it seems like these days its one of those RIS's that goes either way (some people seem to like the hops in it, some seem not to).

But that bar at the Sheraton seems kinda cool if you wanna just go relax and have a nice beer... The Tuesday night jazz thing might be pretty cool... I'll have to check this out soon.